Diagnosis of Esophageal Cancer
by Ricker Polsdorfer, MD
The doctor will ask about your symptoms, and medical and family history. The head, neck, throat, and abdominal areas will be carefully examined. Your doctor may look for other possible causes of your symptoms. If cancer or other gastrointestinal conditions are suspected, a specialist may be recommended.
Suspicion of Esophageal Cancer
If you have symptoms, your doctor may conduct certain tests to identify abnormalities. These may include:
Diagnosis of Esoghageal Cancer
Diagnosis of esophageal cancer is confirmed with a biopsy. A biopsy is a tissue sample that is removed from the esophagus, often during an endoscopy. After removal, the sample is examined under a microscope. This is the only way to confirm a diagnosis.
The tissue may also be tested for other factors, such as genetic characteristics (human growth factor receptor or HER2). Certain genetics will provide guidance for prognosis and treatment.
Staging of Esophageal Cancer
If esophageal cancer is confirmed, results from completed tests and new tests will help determine the stage of cancer. Staging is used to identify characteristics of the tumor that will help determine the prognosis and treatment plan. Factors that play a role in staging include how far the original tumor has spread, whether lymph nodes are involved, if cancer has spread to other tissue, and microscopic cellular details.
Tests that may help determine esophageal cancer stage:
Stages of Esophageal Cancer
The esophagus is made up of 4 layers, the innermost mucosa, the submucosa, a thicker muscle layer, and a thin layer of connective tissue called the adventitia. The location and depth of the tumor is important in staging. Esophageal cancer is staged from 0-IV.
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Last reviewed December 2016 by Mohei Abouzied, MD
Last Updated: 12/16/2015
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